The conservation of the Eastern lowland gorillas is threatened by several factors.
Though several measures have been taken to protect the Eastern lowland gorillas, a lot is still needed to be done to protect these great apes from getting extinct.
Threats to Conservation
Conservationists and scientists agree that the most serious short-term threats to Eastern lowland gorillas in this region are poaching and disease epidemics. In the longer term, habitat loss and disturbance will become as serious a threat as hunting and disease.
Many of the communities that inhabit the region rely on the forests and its wildlife for their livelihoods. The rich abundance of animals and plants that are found in the area constitute an essential source of food and shelter for the region’s population, as well as playing an important spiritual and cultural role for hunter-gatherer societies.
The region’s natural resources are also extremely important for the development of the national economies of the region, particularly crude oil, timber and minerals. On a global scale, the forests of the Congo basin provide essential ecosystem services, such as watershed conservation, climate regulation and carbon sequestration.
Poaching of eastern lowland gorillas in the equatorial Africa occurs despite the fact that they are protected under both national and international laws in all range states. Although hunters rarely target apes, the apes are killed when encountered and caught in wire snares.
The commercial hunting of wildlife for meat has reached crisis proportions in Central Africa, and now poses a greater threat to the survival of the gorillas than habitat destruction.
Over 24 million people live in the Congo Basin, consuming around one million metric tons of bushmeat per year, and with populations continuing to expand, meat consumption is expected to rise by as much as 3% per year. This means that the eastern lowland gorillas and other wildlife are being removed from the forest at numbers that cannot be sustained by natural population growth rates.
It is the commercialization of the bushmeat trade that has pushed many wildlife populations towards extinction. For thousands of years, bushmeat has been part of the subsistence of rural populations in Africa. But as the population of Central Africa has become increasingly urbanized and incomes has risen, the commercial trade in bushmeat has rocketed. Even low hunting pressure can have adverse effects on ape populations because they are long-lived species with slow reproductive rates.
Logging facilitates bushmeat hunting by the construction of roads to urban centers and by creating new demand for bushmeat through the installation of logging towns and workers.
The penetration of logging roads and vehicles into previously remote areas of forest coupled with the associated effects of rapid human immigration and population growth has produced an explosion in commercial hunting, with bushmeat, including apes, marketed not to local villagers but to salaried workers in logging camps, regional towns and major cities.
Some forestry companies are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects of their activities, and are trying to mitigate the negative impact they have on the environment. One way in which this has been achieved is to join internationally recognized forestry certification schemes, which promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.